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Tiptoe through the pedis

Give your feet the therapeutic treatment

From balancing chakras to stimulating muscles, nail salons are claiming that there’s more to them than pretty feet.

“I used to work at the Bodhi Tree book store, and they had a book called Chakra Energy Massage that discussed the seven chakra centers,” says Julie Serquinia, owner of Paint Shop Beverly Hills.

The result: her popular Dharma Pedicure, which claims to energize your chakras and comes with a nail enamel to match your favorite energy center.

Ripsy Alexanian gets specific. “I can look at a person’s foot and know exactly what’s wrong with them and how to fix it,” she says of her “orthopedicures,” which require booking weeks in advance.

Podiatrists are divided over pedicures tending to anything other than vanity. Kevin Tseng of Century Park East Foot and Ankle Center praises their maintenance work as a worthy adjunct, while Martin Alongi of Beverly Hills Podiatry says he’s treated too many infections that came from unsanitary tools. On that point, Alexanian agrees.

“People think they can just go to any nail shop in the mall and get a good pedicure,” she says. “There’s more people that don’t know what they’re doing out there than those who do. People need to do their research.”

So, that’s what we did.

Salon: Ripsy’s Nail Salon at Verbella
301 N. Canon Drive
(310) 858-8486
Service: “Orthopedicure,” $75 for 80 min.
Claim: Treats “problem feet”
Comments: Got corns and calluses? Not any more. A former violinist, Alexanian’s ministrations are Rescue 911 for feet that have seen one too many Manolos. Nor does she skimp on the primp; treatment includes a 30-minute foot bath, peppermint scrub for feet and calves and a reflexology massage that turns you to jelly.

Salon: Ona Spa
7373 Beverly Blvd.
(323) 931-4442
Service: Feet First Pedicure, $135 for 105 min.
Claim: Eliminates toxins
Comments: The eucalyptus and wintergreen sea salt bath is supposed to relieve swollen feet, a 10-minute warm gel wrap “eliminates trapped fluids,” a clay menthol and camphor complex “activates circulation” and a massage is designed to activate lymphatic drainage. Does any of it work? Well, it felt great — and the next day, the scale said we’d lost 5 lbs.

Salon: Paint Shop
319 ½ S. Robertson Blvd.
(310) 652-5563
Service: Dharma Pedicure, $45 for one hour
Claim: Energize chakras through intense foot massage
Comments: Soaking in an aromatherapy foot bath with floating bougainvillea petals is a nice touch, but the “intense” massage put us to sleep. Pleasant, but less than transcendental. Customers take home the foot file, orange stick and buffer used during their treatment.

Salon: Le Petite Retreat
331 N. Larchmont Blvd.
(323) 466-1028
Service: Island River Rock Copper Foot Bath, $50 for 50 min.
Claim: Stimulate circulation
Comments: Copper may have the ability to aid circulation and inflammation, but it probably won’t happen by soaking your feet in a copper washtub. That said, the river rocks felt nice on the soles of our feet, as did the warm paraffin mask. And when we nicked a freshly painted toenail, the pedicurist was swift to do a touchup.

Salon: L.A. Vie L’Orange
638 ½ N. Robertson Blvd.
(310) 289-2501
Service: Orient Express Pedicure, $65 for one hour
Claim: Fights wrinkly feet
Comments: A foot soak comprising chopped cucumber, orange slices and rose petals mixed with geranium essential oil, olive oil and warm water is billed as “a fragrant, refreshing, anti-wrinkle soak treat”; we found it a mess, with cucumber cubes stuck between our toes. Much more successful was the paraffin wax treatment, which left feet soft for more than a week, and a full pedicure that made calluses disappear.

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